The African Continent comprises 55 countries, with different economic and agricultural realities. But most of these countries face the same challenge: how to bring new technologies and different types of eco-energy sources to agricultural fields. These technologies among numerous other benefits help to stem the migration of youth from rural areas to the cities in search for jobs which are however elusive.
The connection between agriculture and eco-energy technologies and the rural-urban migration was the main subject of discussion for the second high-level panel under at the 2019 Brazil-Africa Forum. The theme of this discussion was “embedding innovative agro-energy models on food-producing and processing”. Contributing to this session were Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Hon Mrs. Ananga Messina, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development of the Republic of Cameroon, Dr. Pedro Rodrigues de Almeida, the Director for External Affairs, Philip Morris Tobacco Company, and Hon Mcebisi Skwatsha, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of South Africa.
Hon Mcebisi Skwatsha explained that the average age of smallholder farmers in South Africa ranges from 60 to 65 years, and when these farmers are asked how they intend to keep their sons and daughters in the agricultural activity, their answer is that they will not do this. They want to see their children far away from the villages. In Hon Skwatcha’s opinion, this is a real threat to future food production.
Hon Skwatsha also underscored the need for increased investment in the agricultural value chain in order to make African products more competitive in the market. He further underscored the urgency for increased investments in alternative energy sources, such as solar targeted at the agriculture sector.
Hon Mrs. Ananga Messina, concurred with Hon Skwatsha on the need to expand energy production and explained that Cameroun has made substantial investments in hydroelectric power generation over the past seven years. She pointed out that due to under-investment in technology, harvest and post-harvest losses in Cameroun are very high.
Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of FARA, highlighted the commitment by African countries to invest 1% of their GDP in research. Most countries have however fallen short of this target. On average the current investment in research is around 0.5% of GDP.
Dr. Pedro Rodrigues, from Phillip Morris, underlined the view of the private sector regarding agriculture development on the African continent, namely that such development will be driven by markets supported by regulatory policies that support cross border trade. He cited a case in Brazil where the tobacco producers recruit young people to rural life by diversifying job opportunities offered by the plantation, beyond the tobacco. Now, these young people are producing food in their small properties.
About the 2019 Brazil-Africa Forum
The 2019 edition of the Brazil-Africa Forum was held in São Paulo on 12th and 13th November with the “Food security: Path to economic growth”. The event brought together around 300 representatives from governments, private sector, academia and investors to exchange experiences, explore opportunities for promoting sustainable development in Brazil and Africa.
Edited by: FARA Communications Unit